The Asian Institute of Management’s Master of Science in Data Science (MSDS) program hosted an appreciation dinner for the organizations that sponsored the program’s pioneer batch at the Makati Shangri-La on 02 July 2018. Twenty guests from eight private companies and government institutions attended the dinner.
The guests represented organizations from Aboitiz, ATRAM, Ayala Corporation, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT), Savvysherpa/UnitedHealth Group, Security Bank Corporation (SBC), and SM Investments Corporation (SMIC).
AIM’s President and Dean Dr. Jikyeong Kang officially welcomed and extended her sincerest gratitude to the sponsors. She emphasized that their support of the program and sponsorship of 19 out of 42 students of the inaugural batch was a worthy investment, and their choice to collaborate with AIM put them ahead of the game.
Three of the sponsored students spoke on behalf of the class. Jose Eduardo Sto. Domingo, an Executive Assistant from BSP, highlighted the diversity of their cohort and the skills they bring into their own learning teams.
“There are the educators, who true to form, have a gift for helping other classmates understand complicated concepts. In some of them I see young versions of highly successful bankers, policymakers, and consultants,” said Domingo. “In others, I see future researchers that could lead ground-breaking studies at par with those produced by the best universities.”
Another sponsored student, Marwell Dalangin, the Assistant Vice President for Digital Solutions at Aboitiz, stressed the potential avenues opened by the MSDS program. “[The program] is where we are building a data science community by working together, in a way that’s never been done before. We are learning about methods, algorithms, models, and techniques that are opening up new ways of solving problems that used to be deemed unsolvable,” he said.
The last student to speak was SBC-sponsored student Patricia Manasan, a former trading floor manager. According to her, the sponsors have afforded the students a great advantage by enabling them to be part of the first-ever formal data science graduate program in the Philippines. “We intend to use this [opportunity] to its fullest extent—including empowering businesses and eventually nation-building as we all face rapidly changing times,” said Manasan.
MSDS Academic Program Director, Dr. Erika Fille Legara updated the sponsors, discussing the engagements the program had, especially in various Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) events. Specifically, the Data Analytics Summit in Tempe, Arizona, USA in March 2018 and the International Conference and Annual Meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA in April 2018.
AACSB is an international accreditation organization whose goal “is to foster engagement, accelerate innovation, and amplify impact in business education.” AIM is the only AACSB-accredited business school in the Philippines, and the first in Southeast Asia.
Dr. Legara also discussed the students’ activities, including their interface with third-party entities to discuss data strategy, as well as the application of Machine Learning for theme extraction and clustering from journal article abstracts.
As part of the continuous engagement with the sponsors, she opened the floor for the submission of data science research problems for the students’ Capstone Projects in Term 4. To solve these real-world problems, the student groups will be closely mentored by their data science professors, data scientists from the Analytics, Computing, and Complex Systems Laboratory (ACCeSs@AIM), and domain experts.
Dr. Legara also underlined that development in data science and artificial intelligence must be tied to the general welfare of society. Part of this thrust for nation-building is the deployment of MSDS students across the Philippines to spread awareness on data science, what it is, and how it can improve lives of people.
During the latter part of the program, Mr. Hoton Elicano, Chief Technology Officer of Aboitiz, asked how AIM came up with the decision to build its own computing infrastructure.
Dr. Kang replied that Acer Founder and Honorary Chairman Stan Shih, who also sits on the AIM Board of Governors, found out about AIM’s data science program. “He wanted us to use his supercomputer because it’s a good way of validating his systems. [AIM] also has several collaboration projects with Acer, including one in AI,” Jikyeong added.
“In order for us to teach our MSDS students big data analytics [and cloud computing], we cannot be solely dependent on the country's internet connection; we have to do it internally, that is, with our on-premise servers [and the intranet],” said Dr. Legara. “We’re putting all the big data for classroom and educational use; and to expose [the students] to GPU computing via the platform we have at ACCeSs@AIM.”
Dr. Christopher Monterola, Head of the School of Innovation, Technology, and Entrepreneurship (SITE), concluded the sponsorship dinner. He emphasized AIM’s vision of making the MSDS program the best in the world and highlighted the dynamic community created by SITE.
“I have dreamed of creating this kind of school where we can connect the academe and the industry and the government agencies,” said Dr. Monterola. “Our idea in SITE is to allow these people—the technologists, the data scientists, the entrepreneurs, and those who have a technopreneur spirit—to be together,” he added.
Echoing Dr. Legara, Dr. Monterola stressed that the program is a vehicle for nation-building, while the sponsors will be getting the best of the best for their organizations through the MSDS program.